League round-up: Posh and Bees up, but the Blues falter

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The Independent Football

Never the most scintillating of Championship sides, Birmingham City threw away the chance to seal an immediate return to the Premier League when Paul McKenna and Ross Wallace both scored from outside the penalty area to earn Preston North End a 2-1 win at St Andrews and keep their own hopes of a play-off place alive.

Birmingham led through a Keith Fahey header and both teams had been reduced to 10 men when Lee Bowyer and Lee Williamson of Preston tussled. Wallace, celebrating his goal, took off his shirt and was booked for a second time as Preston finished with nine men. Next Sunday, Birmingham go to Reading, who can still go up automatically, as can Sheffield United, who go to ardent Blades fan Neil Warnock's Crystal Palace.

Yesterday, there was joy unconfined for Peterborough United and Brentford, who won promotion from Leagues One and Two. Charlie Lee's goal five minute before the break saw Posh win 1-0 win at Colchester United, while Billy Clarke scored twice in the Bees' 3-1 win at Darlington. "I am on cloud nine," Posh's manager, Darren Ferguson, said. "The players deserve all the credit, they have worked extremely hard this season from the first whistle to the last. It is a great feeling."

But there were no celebrations at Whaddon Road where Cheltenham Town were held to a 1-1 draw by Carlisle United and thus relegated to League Two, where they will not be playing Chester City, who drew 2-2 at Aldershot, which, given their massive -37 goal difference, is not enough to prevent demotion to the Blue Square Premier.

Back in the Championship, a David Cotterill penalty after Garry Monk brought down Stephen Quinn saw Sheffield United beat Swansea City 1-0 to keep the pressure on Birmingham.

Wolves were crowned Championship champions after a 1-1 draw at Barnsley, who were pushed closer to relegation. Kyel Reid grabbed the crucial equaliser for Wolves six minutes from time after Jon Macken had given the Tykes the lead just before the hour. There was a point for Nottingham Forest, too, Dexter Blackstock scoring in the 1-1 draw at Blackpool. Plymouth Argyle drew 0-0 at Queen's Park Rangers and are still in danger, but only if Norwich City, in the bottom three, can beat Reading tomorrow night.

In the scrap for the play-off places, Burnley twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Southampton, who are relegated without the necessity of a 10-point deduction and so carry the deficit into their League One campaign.

Elsewhere in the Championship Watford trailed 2-0 but goals by Tommy Smith, Gregorsz Rasiak and Tamas Priskin saw them win 3-2 at Coventry City, who were wearing a brown strip in honour of their 125th anniversary. Derby County beat relegated Charlton 1-0, Crystal Palace lost 2-0 at Doncaster Rovers, and Bristol City drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday.

In League One, Milton Keynes Dons, Millwall and Leeds are all assured of play-off involvement, Tranmere Rovers regained sixth place after a 1-1 draw at Yeovil but Scunthorpe United are a point behind with two games in hand.

In League Two Wycombe, Exeter City and Bury all drew. Next Saturday only two of them can go up.